Archive for December, 2011


Internet freedom and privacy are major issues in the emerging Internet law. “Cyber law” is grounded in international law which makes its development harder. What is important to understand is that because the Internet has become such an important part of our daily lives, it should regulate itself instead of obeying domestic laws. The Internet has to have its own law. The European community, through the “Telecoms Package Act” started this process at the European scale. We should understand that in order to protect “Netizens (citizens of the net)” there should be a universal Internet law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 claims that freedom of speech on any media should be protected at all means. Our goal is therefore to make sure this fundamental human right is protected on the Internet. Internet censorship, as seen in China and Iran for example, has to be abolished and Internet privacy laws as well as freedom of expression on the Internet, protected.

The Global Network Initiative is an organization that helps “the information and communications technology sector navigate the complexities and obligations of Internet privacy and freedom of expression of Netizens as well as the respect online law enforcement.” GNI is a perfect example of “global civil society.” It advocates through information politics through the use of politically usable information, symbolic politics as it uses testimonies to reach a larger audience, leverage politics as it pressures governments and accountability politics by convincing governments and others to publicly change their positions while encouraging government demands that are consistent with international laws and standards of freedom of expression. The GNI initiative gather resources from government and internationals organizations as well as Human Rights groups. Their goal is to encourage governments “to be specific, transparent and consistent in the demands, laws and regulations related to freedom of expression on the Internet.” The Global Network Initiative uses information, accountability and leverage politics.

“GNI engages proactively with governments to reach a shared understanding of how government restrictions can be applied in a manner consistent with GNI’s principles.”

(GNI Website: http://globalnetworkinitiative.org)

Source: http://globalnetworkinitiative.org

The EU passed the “Telecoms Reform Package” in May 2011. It limits Internet censorship and guarantees Internet Freedom and privacy. “Accordingly, these measures may only be taken with due respect for the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. A prior fair and impartial procedure shall be guaranteed, including the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned, subject to the need for appropriate conditions and procedural arrangements in duly substantiated cases of urgency in conformity with European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The right to an effective and timely judicial review shall be guaranteed.”

“The conciliation process that led to the agreement was shepherded by the European Commission.” The Telecoms Reform Package as a whole has for objective to “substantially enhance consumer rights and consumer choice in Europe’s telecoms markets, and add new guarantees to ensure the openness and neutrality of the internet”.

In the article, member states take any measures to limit internet access or use must “respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law”.

It also says any access or use limitations must be “appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society”, and their implementation must include “effective judicial review and due process”.

“Accordingly, these measures may only be taken with due respect for the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy,” the text adds. “A prior fair and impartial procedure shall be guaranteed, including the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned… The right to an effective and timely judicial review shall be guaranteed.”

Sources:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/tomorrow/index_en.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/09/491

The Council of Europe, organized on the 18th and 19th April 2011 in Strasbourg the conference “Internet Freedom: From principles to global treaty law?” The goal of the conference was to answer the question: what kind of responsibility should states have to preserve the Internet?

Recent events in Northern Africa and developments related to the Wikileaks case have clearly shown how access to the Internet content and services can be easily disrupted. The Internet can be switched off, snatching from millions of people the possibility to communicate or access information. The fundamental right to freedom of expression may be jeopardized and values of democracy may be put in question.

The conference’s agenda was to examine possible ways to protect and promote Internet’s universality, intergrity and openness. It discusses whether there is scope for further international law action to preserve the Internet as a means of safeguarding freedom of expression and access to information. The outcome of the conference was a success: Draft Program Conference Internet Freedom Council of Europe. The representatives of Council of Europe member states, the US Department of State, International Telecommunications Union (private sector), civil society and experts on cross-border Internet were present.

Read the opening Speech by Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe


The U.S’s reaction to Wikileaks is interesting to look at regarding Internet freedom and Privacy. The United States’ argument to put Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, on trial are the non-respect of governmental secrets and their publishing on the Internet. The legal implications of this case are related to freedom of speech on Internet. Did Assange violate Espionage Act? Is Wikileaks protected under the U.S’ First Amendment? Will Assange be indicted?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

Read this article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40653249/ns/us_news-wikileaks_in_security/t/us-v-wikileaks-espionage-first-amendment/#.TtgoRM016eY